VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  OATH OF SERVICE
before Vietnam

                        Swear to maintain your motor skill.
                        Swear to resist, and yet obey,
                        till barring all you think or say,
                        you can enact your Country's will.

                        Swear righteously that you'll accept,
                        in forfeiture of blood and breath,
                        your friend's as well as your own death,
                        as long as that one will is kept.

                        Confirm, here, now, for all you care
                        of politics or common fate,
                        you are the lowest gear of State,
                        engaged and run by what you swear.

by Contributing Poet:     William Conelly   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   Facebook Occasional Poems   November 11, 2015 )


  The Lead Man
for Jim Fegan

                        Two seasons at the Air Force pulling guard
                        his quick, conditioned play was substitute
                        for greater strength; and several games he starred
                        with down field blocks so timely and acute
                        the team scored through his fierce, self-disregard.

                        Annealed by absolutes of thought and skill,
                        he played the guard again in Vietnam,
                        the bolt and hammer of collective will
                        that launched his jet with missiles and napalm
                        each day to interdict, engage and kill,

                        that called his flight out of a pig-iron sky
                        into an arc of anti-aircraft fire;
                        and though they might have banked out, hard and high,
                        he chose to score his target once entire,
                        not questioning the instant he would die.

by Contributing Poet:     William Conelly   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in Uncontested Grounds by   The Able Muse Press (San Jose, CA)   2015 )


  R & R

                        He came from war zones to the sea,
                        its pouring out and pouring back,
                        its loose and slow monotony.

                        Along the fringe, where sight could reach,
                        clay lands had broken to a wrack
                        as fine as salt to make a beach,

                        and ocean was suffused with sky,
                        a sky like water, vast and slack,
                        that vision could not occupy.

                        Arrayed in both, a monstrous sun
                        swam through the empty zodiac
                        defining many lights as one.
*
                        Why he was there he could not say.
                        His purpose and a simple knack
                        for travel ended where he lay,

                        and waited, blind to shade or shelter,
                        for trip-work waves to arc, and crack,
                        and tumble further through the swelter,

                        as if mere waiting might rebuild
                        the innocence good soldiers lack,
                        once choices mean good people killed,

                        as if this hot reductive shore
                        could temper or refine him back,
                        before the peace, before the war.

by Contributing Poet:     William Conelly   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in Uncontested Grounds by   The Able Muse Press (San Jose, CA)   2015 )


Bio:   William Conelly   followed his father into the military and was appointed out of the regular Air Force to the Air Force Academy in June of 1962. There, gradually, he came to consider himself a writer than a potential engineer or pilot. Subsequently, age 21, he resigned from the Academy to obtain both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in English under the distinguished American poet Edgar Bowers at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Post graduation, after considerable stints in transport and financial services, sales and commercial writing, Conelly returned to academia in 2000 where, by turns, he served as an associate professor, a tutor and an instructor of creative writing. Retired now, he is a dual citizen of the US and the UK and, with his wife, maintains a permanent residence in the West Midlands town of Warwick.


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